We were sorry to say goodbye to Strasbourg, but we were both excited for the final step of our trip together: Paris. We had just one day and two nights to spend in the City of Lights, but we planned to squeeze every ounce of awesomeness out of the time we had.
We were staying at the Hotel Mistral in the Montparnasse district, once the home (and watering grounds) of many famous writers, artists and philosophers. Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre actually lived at the Hotel Mistral for several years, keeping separate bedrooms to preserve their independence.
In a quirky décor touch, the famous philosophers’ faces graced tiles in the bathroom.
And the bedroom was very, very pink.
But we weren’t there to hang out at the hotel. We set out in search of the best cocktails in Paris, specifically at Bar Hemingway at the Hotel Ritz. Sadly, it was closed for renovation!
We didn’t let that slow us down. We headed towards the Bastille, an out-of-the-way arrondissement where we had stayed on our last Paris adventures and which is known for its up-and-coming, under-the-radar bars and restaurants. We ended up at Calbar, where we expected to find a seafood restaurant but instead found world-class creative cocktails served up by barmen in their boxers (caleçon in French; cal+bar = calbar).
With eclectic décor, endless jars of spices and garnishes, an array of specialty liquors infused with unexpected flavors, and a clientele with a certain je ne sais quoi, you could easily have been in the Lower Haight (except for the fact that everyone was speaking French). We may have stayed a little longer than originally planned.
We eventually decided that it would not be a good plan to just have cocktails for dinner, so we set out in search of the seafood restaurant we had been looking for (turns out we were on rue Charenton, not rue de Charonne). We found the place we had in mind, but the kitchen was closing (it was nearly 11pm, after all). Hungry for seafood, we walked in circles for a while looking for some oysters, but every place we went was just closing. We may still have been on “the Spanish hour” for mealtimes, but French restaurants operate on a schedule, and it doesn’t involve feeding tipsy Americans at all hours.
Finally, we stumbled upon a Basque tapas bar with the kitchen open as long as the Coupe du Monde lasted. We munched on marinated octopus, salty croquetas and a heavenly tapenade while taking in part of the game and the animated crowd, including a mop-headed child of no more than five years swearing a blue streak at the opposing team. The game went into overtime and the place was still going strong when we finally left after midnight, just in time to hop a metro back to Montparnasse.
I had hoped to fit all of Paris into one blog post, but like we intended, we packed a lot into 36 hours. More to come tomorrow on our perfect rainy day in Paris!